Pechanga Tribe Softens Objection to Bad Actors in California

Posted on by Tim Hernandez

Pechanga Tribe Softens Objection to Bad Actors in CaliforniaAccording to reports from the recent NIGA convention, the Pechanga Tribe has softened its objections to bad actors being involved in California i-gaming.

Ever since discussions related to online gambling in California first started, the Pechanga Tribe has been vehemently opposed to the participation of any company that provided an online gambling service to Californians post UIGEA in 2006.

The tribe´s approach has been interpreted as a means to protect their own interests – rather than being based on any moral higher ground – and it has put the brakes on any consensus of opinion towards the introduction of i-gaming in California.

Now it has been reported that the tribes´ leaders are softening their objections to legislative clauses that would prohibit bad actors or companies providing a service with tainted assets – an approach that would allow Amaya Gaming/PokerStars to enter the Californian market.

News Originates from National Indian Gaming Association Convention

According to Dave Palermo from, the softening of the tribe´s approach was first identified at a convention of the National Indian Gaming Association, called by Cody Martinez of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in an attempt to generate tribal unity.

Although the outcome of the convention was only that discussions will continue, Robert Martin – Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians – reported that he had a meeting with Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro who told him that the two tribes were pretty closely aligned on i-gaming except for when it comes to the tracks.

This comment was interpreted by Dave Palermo as an indication that the Indian tribes, the Californian card rooms and Amaya Gaming/PokerStars could form some form of new coalition to accelerate the progress of i-gaming legislation in California if the racetracks were not included in the legislation – something that California Governor Jerry Brown has stated he will never allow to happen.

Speculation over the Pechanga´s Change of Heart

The reason for the Pechanga Tribes´ change of heart has many possibilities. It could be the case that Macarro has acknowledged the obstacles the Pechanga Tribe has placed in the way of previous California i-gaming legislation has created ill-feeling between the tribes, or that the tribe is looking at developments in New Jersey – where PokerStars is expected to enter the market later this year.

Writing for, James Guill speculates that Macarro has taken the if you can´t beat them, join them attitude – or at least given that impression on the grounds that there is still six months before the anticipated launch of PokerStars in New Jersey. Guill suggests that the end of 2015 could be exciting times for the entire US i-gaming industry, although we suggest that caution is advised before celebrating either the return of PokerStars or the progression of i-gaming legislation in California.

Much Still to be Discussed before i-Gaming in California becomes a Reality

The misrepresentation of the comments coming out of the National Indian Gaming Association convention have led some people to believe that the Pechanga Tribe has already formed a coalition with PokerStars to forward i-gaming legislation in California. Dave Palermo was careful to use phrases such as if all the tribes got together and the possibility of cooperation in his article and – in the words of Mark Macarro Nothing. That´s my one word answer. Nothing. has been resolved.

Some of the tribes – notably the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Pala Band of Luiseño Mission Indians and United Auburn Indian Community – still want the racetracks involved in future i-gaming legislation, and the existing PokerStars coalition has not opposed extending i-gaming licenses to the racing industry. Plus there are the objections of Governor Jerry Brown to overcome.

Considering that the race tracks have a strong political influence over California´s Assemblymen and Senators, it seems unlikely that any i-gaming legislation would achieve the two-thirds majority required in both houses before the bill even ended up on Jerry Brown´s desk for a signature. Therefore, it would be foolish to suggest that the softening of the Pechanga Tribe´s objections to bad actors brings Californian i-gaming any more than one step closer to reality.

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